Editor's Note: “A Look at Times Gone By” is an in-depth look at weekly Times Gone By entries compiled since 2015. These articles represent the history of Washington County sports.
They were known as the Herman Joes to readers of the Washington County Pilot-Tribune.
Boxers Joe Drayer and Joe Matheson earned headlines in 1935 after winning their divisions of the Golden Gloves tournament in Omaha. Drayer claimed the light heavyweight title, while Matheson was the welterweight champion.
With their victories, the Herman fighters advanced to the regional competition in Chicago. Matheson went 0-for-1, losing a three-round decision to Gary, Ind., boxer Leo Pilla. Reports from ringside suggested the Washington County native had rallied during the third, once “almost flooring” his foe with a right punch to Pilla's heart.
Drayer, meanwhile, earned a second fight in Chicago with a technical knockout in his first. The light heavyweight landed a right hook to Earl Aaron's chin within 10 seconds of the first round. The Louisville, Ky., boxer lasted to the bell, but didn't leave his corner to start the second after Herman's own battered him.
In his second fight, Drayer dropped Joe Bauer of Cleveland to the mat twice. It was Bauer, who finished second to Joe Louis the year prior, though, who won a decision from the judges. Chicagoans booed the result.
Omaha sports writer Floyd Olds reported favorably of the Herman boxer's efforts, however.
“Even the unpleasant verdict didn't take away the wonderful performance of Drayer, who in fewer than a dozen fights has built himself into one of the nation's greatest amateurs.”
Months later, in April, Drayer had a rematch with Bauer, earning revenge in front of 600 fans at the Ak-Sar-Ben coliseum in Omaha. Matheson was also on the fight card, earning his own decision victory.
Drayer went onto accomplish a 3-1 professional record, according to boxrec.com. Matheson, meanwhile, went 15-6-8.